Marco De Curtis

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On December 14, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Ocado’s ‘Sci-Fi Ballet’ :


Thanks for sharing it!!

As a former Ocado customer and fan it is great news that they have been able to turn profit after many years.

I also enjoyed a lot your discussion on the operational sophistication that Ocado has been to build. Business models such as Ocado as you suggest are so much capital intensive and require so much patience but then they become totally uncomparable to other competitors in the grocery sector (Instacart can be a product competitor but it is in my opinion totally on another business side).


On December 14, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Warby Parker’s Prescription for Disrupting “Four-Eyed” Fashion :

Alice and Libby, such an interesting discussion above!

I have often been thinking about how and whether this model (e.g. vertical integration) could be exportable to other industries.
I recently came across this techcrunch article (i enclose the link below) that explains what conditions helped the brands you mentioned above to succeed (e.g. for Warby parker the presence of a player, luxottica, that if not a monopolist is however an oligopolist). I found it interesting.

When i think about Warby Parker I think about a brand more than an e-commerce.

I think that vertically integrated online players can have three advantages vs. pure traditional players : 1) price (i totally agree with it – by not having full offline ops they can have a cost advantage), 2) ability to exploit the internet to reach consumers in an innovative way – e.g. Warby parker being born as pure online I imagine has strong online marketing skills, 3) ability to find an innovative way to reach consumers both online but also offline.

I keep believing that price is an important aspect and it allowed Warby Parker to get traction. However, also as I look at other sectors (e.g. Bonobos,…) I feel that the success of these online integrated players will have to rely always more also on innovative way to reach clients (e.g. guidebook for Bonobos, temporary stores,….) and on innovative marketing (e.g. Dollar Shave Club,…)

I would love to continue this discussion also offline. Thanks for sharing it.

Link to article I mentioned above:

On December 14, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Eataly: life is too short not to eat well :

Thanks for the interesting comment.

As it relates to the Internet presence they are building it up. Do not know how big it is but they appointed a specific digital CEO.

As it relates to the second point I find it very interesting. I believe this is a model they could be pursuing in the future for the expansion in new markets. The majority of their stores is pretty large. Not sure if they have already some small stores as you are mentioning. However, i do believe this could be an interesting path to follow.

On December 13, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on MoveLoot: Making Moving Hassle-Free :

I find this business model very interesting and it made me think a lot about a concept i heard a couple of weeks ago of “augmented” marketplace.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a presentation of thred-up (an e-commerce that buys used clothes for children from consumers and then sell them back to other consumers). Thred-up has a big inventory and operational costs, but differentiates itself from Ebay since for the consumer it adds the value of no operational shipping issues in a way that is similar to Moveloot (only difference from what i understand above is that Moveloot does not purchase the goods while holding them).
The CEO of Thred-up talked about augemented marketplace. The key idea is that rather than having a very lean marketplace where you are not integrated Thred-up was operationally very heavy but by doing it added lots of value to consumers + increased the barrier to entry.

As for MoveLoot i think that we have seen in the past lots of marketplace which were very light (basically connected consumers) and VC loved them since they were light and easily scalable. However, i think that in the future marketplace as moveloot will become always more popular and building great operations is key to differentiate. I also think as Marco mentioned above that having critical mass is key and since gaining critical mass is very expensive, there might be an opportunity to build something similar in other markets (e.g. Europe, Latin America,…).

And by the way it would be interesting to hear if you think that the same model could be applied to other goods (e.g. cars, bycicles, specific clothes, ,….).

Thanks for sharing!

On December 12, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Eataly: life is too short not to eat well :

Hey Steven, thanks for the smart question.

As I wrote I think that Eataly has been great at exploiting a great business model and aligning it with a compelling operating model. However, I think that using a brand such as the made in Italy for food (food and fashion are in my opinion two of the Italian most distinctive products) was a great advantage.

To answer your questions, what are the conditions that would allow another cuisine/country to succeed:
1) Cuisine that is loved by lots people:
I think that if you focus on food you need a country whose food is highly respected/loved and it accessible in terms of pricing. For instance, French or Japanese cuisine is something that most people like a lot (even though sometimes the Japanese cuisine might be a bit too expensive). Or also a Chinese Eataly equivalent would make sense, especially if you consider the huge share of Americans with Chinese origins and how the Chinese culture is still a bit exotic/ fascinating.
2) Ability to bring lots of high quality partners from the country (i think this is very important)
3) Need to have either a seasoned entrepreneur/manager in retail/food or someone willing to ask for help / partner with someone who knows this competitive sector well
4) Strong ability to execute operations.

Another idea could be to have a country store. Eataly is focused on food but for instance it would be great if there were some big stores where apart from food you could buy original brands from the country and get to know more about the country. In Milan we hosted the expo ( and there were more than 20 million people. Basically there was a building dedicated to each country where the focus was on food and culture. Having something similar permanently I think could be an interesting idea.

This is an interesting conversation and I would love to hear any thoughts/comment you might have on it.

On December 10, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Eataly: life is too short not to eat well :

Thanks for the comment. I definitely agree with you that the sector is very competitive and that after the initial enthusiasm there might a certain risk not to be able to grow at the same rate.

However, I think Eataly has shown ability to adapt and to offer always better value propositions for instance by changing menus or restaurants.

Eataly’s ability to keep adapting and putting the customer at the center in my opinion will determine its future.

On December 10, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Eataly: life is too short not to eat well :

Thanks for the comment.

I think that Andrea Guerra joining Eataly is a fantastic news. Having such a seasoned and credible business person as Guerra will help so much in so many ways, for instance 1) when Eataly is going to expand in other Asian countries (that is such a great opportunity) 2) if Eataly decides to IPO Guerra gives even more credibility to the ability of the firm to scale its operations.

As it relates to getting to know Guerra’s perspective I would definitely be super excited!! He really showed to us Italians how Italy can be global number 1 leader (as he did with Luxottica). Next year Eataly is opening in Boston, it would be very cool to bring Farinetti and Guerra at HBS (hopefully they will come to Boston when the store opens) to share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges laying ahead. I will keep this in mind for the second semester.

As you suggest, Eataly is in a terrific situation but still several challenges lie ahead when you want to scale.

On December 9, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Kiton: The Best of the Best +1 :

Thanks a lot for the article. I really enjoyed it. I am from Naples and I know Kiton as firm very well.

I think you have very well described their operating model. One thing that you highlighted that i found very important is the Kitons’ school.
Half the people who do the school as you suggested end up working at Kiton. By doing it, Kiton has solved such an important issue which is lack of talent .

In addition I think it is also important to say that Kiton has well managed to scale globally having now presence in several countries and currently for instance is trying to become stronger and stronger in Asia.

On December 8, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Eataly: life is too short not to eat well :

Thanks for the question.

I do believe that sometimes scale and quality are not so easy to combine. However, in order to build a solid business model being able to scale while not losing quality is needed.

That said I think that as of now Eataly has been able to combine quality and quantity (Of course Eataly has not to be compared with Michelin stars restaurants in terms of quality). Also going forward I think that controlling quality level is going to play a key role for the success of Eataly.

On December 7, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Eataly: life is too short not to eat well :

Thanks for the comment Josh.

As you are saying the fact that in so many parts of US, stores are shutting down whereas Eataly is growing (as I wrote in the article Eataly will come in 2016 to Boston, on the top floor of Prudential Center) is a signal of how strong is Eataly.

I think that Eataly differentiates itself both for its business model and also for its operating model.

First, of course the business model is great and the product they offer is very good. I think that having these big stores was a fantastic idea. If you have visited Eataly you will understand how great it is. I agree with you that the locations they have chosen are another important ingredient of their success (as for most retail businesses).

However, I think that it is not only their business model that is helping them to succeed but their operating model is a key driving force. They are doing lots of partnership with suppliers and restaurants in their stores and they are able to scale globally. I can tell you that in Italy there are lots of other very nice stores/retailers (for instance gelato places) and even though they offer an amazing customer experience, they not growing as much as Eataly. For instance, in NY there is an Italian gelato place, Grom (you might have heard) and even though Grom is a fantastic place still was not able (or willing) to grow internationally as much as Eataly did (Grom was two months ago acquired by Unilever). Lots of other Italian business fear that growth/scale is antithetic to quality and in my opinion often prefer not to grow (a bit as it happened with Chateau Margaux 🙂 ).

As it relates to your point what makes Eataly different from Whole Food, I think Eataly is more than a supermarket it is an experiential place. You go there to shop but not only to do that ( you shop, eat and learn – that is not only a slogan but it is totally true :). That is why people are willing to spend a premium at Eataly and nowdays when you go to NY for instance tourists love to go there.
In addition, I think that Whole Foods is proportionally more expensive than Eataly ( on this point however this is just my high level point of view and i should do a more detailed analysis to precisely compare Eataly’s pricing with Whole Foods).

To sum up I think that Eataly is not a fade. I would personally invest in Eataly (of course depending on their future valuation 🙂 ) or I would be very happy to work for them (to tell you how much i believe in their model). I think that Eataly is one of the few Italian food business involved in retailing that is trying to scale globally keeping high quality. Few others have done it and succeeded. I think the business opportunity is huge !!

And by the way Eataly is not only an International business (they are very strong in Italy) and Italians love eating there!

On December 7, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on Bain & Company: A people-oriented approach to driving impact :

Roger, thanks for sharing the interesting article on consulting.
I think this industry is very interesting since it has not been disrupted (yet).

However, 1) lots of firms are getting much smarter – firms such as P&G, Nestle or Google have super bright employees and hence in the future consulting engagement in my opinion will be always fewer (at least if prices keep to be so high) since these firms often have the capability to do the work internally , 2) as you say above not always consulting bring real impacts. Hence, for as much consulting will be needed in cases where an external view is required or for things such as due diligence I guess it is going to be always more complicated for super high level generalist consulting firms to charge lots of money.

My questions are then:
1) What is then Bain approach towards scalable solutions? hence rather than selling a consulting team you sell them tools? I heard Mckinsey has developed a similar team? (I think is called Mckinsey & Solutions) – with Lower price but much more scalable?
2) What is Bain approach towards specialization? Is Bain thinking to highly specialize some consulting teams (e.g. specialized teams on product design, heavily specialize on hr practice and change management, or on other key similar topics)?
3) As far as you know has Bain made any recent acquisitions in these fields above? During the semester we studied firms such as Egon Zhender or IDEO and I think that integrating similar firms into Bain could allow Bain to continue having an edge? What do you think about that?


On December 7, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on OYO Rooms: India’s largest budget hotel brand built in less than 3 years! :

Cool thanks for the answer.

By the way I have another follow up question. What about Airbnb? I guess Airbnb would be a big competitor for OYO. As far as you know how strong is Airbnb in India and do they do any quality check considering the specific Indian context or do they behave in India in the same way as in other countries?

On December 6, 2015, Marco De Curtis commented on OYO Rooms: India’s largest budget hotel brand built in less than 3 years! :

Thanks a lot for the article. I had heard already about OYO and I had been very fascinated by the concept. In addition the info above have shed more light on it.
I think the main point that OYO does is give trust to customers that the service they will receive is going to be at least acceptable .

My question for you is how good has OYO been to grow so much (from 13 hotels to 3000k in one year) and be able to double check the quality of all hotels?
I would also be interested to better understand (only if you know) how does OYO interact with the various hotels to be sure that they follow the standards set by OYO.
My fear is that with such a massive growth the quality can go much down (as for instance it has happened for lots of Uber drivers) and hence to have in place a good quality operational setting is going to be key for them.

Thanks again,